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Building a HCPC?

Discussion in 'Microsoft Windows' started by quinnmar, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. quinnmar

    quinnmar
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    I was thinking about building my own HCPC as the one I bought isn't that great, even though it was only £499 from Aldi.

    With a budget of about £650 to £700 would I get a reasonable spec build and what hardware would you suggest?

    many thanks
    quinnmar
     
  2. Big Adam

    Big Adam
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    It will be most cost effective to simple upgrade using components from your cheap Aldi PC.

    HTPC's do not need to be power houses unless you are striving for big screen high definition goodness.

    Post the specs of your Aldi and we'll advise. I doubt you'll need to spend half of your budget.
     
  3. quinnmar

    quinnmar
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    I only bought this PC yesterday. Please note the highend gfx card only has ONE RGB, not two, let alone DVI out. It's important that I have DVI out from the gfx. Here's the spec anyway...

    Titanium MD8385 Base Station each 499.99 GBP

    This is a truly magnificent multimedia home entertainment
    design centre that all the family will enjoy. Watch,
    interact and create with ease.

    Comes complete with
    * Remote control
    * Wireless keyboard
    * Optical wireless mouse
    * Headset with microphone

    Power
    * Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 Processor 519
    * 3.06GHz, 1MB L2 Cache, 533 MHz FSB
    * 64-bit technology to support future computing needs
    * 'Whisper' quiet thanks to AIRXL heat pipe cooler

    Hard Disk Capacity
    * 250 GB 8 MB Cache
    * S-ATA 150 Interface
    * Super fast 7200 RPM

    Memory
    * 512 MB DDR
    * Upgradeable to 2GB

    High End Graphics
    * NVIDIA(R) GeForce(R) 6200 TC graphics card with
    TurboCacheTM Technology2 supporting 256MB DDR,
    PCI-Express x 16 busarchitecture, TV-out

    Burn
    * 16 x Multi-standard, Dual Layer DVD/CD-Writer

    Software
    * Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP Home Edition with SP2
    pre-installed
    * Microsoft Works 8.0
    * Also comes with an amazing software package4
    including Medion Home Cinema XL
    * AOL 9.0 and many more

    Package
    * 16 x DVD-ROM ideal for watching DVD movies

    Crystal-clear TV, DVB-T digital TV - see the new free-to-air
    digital channels1

    * Analogue Stereo-TV and FM Tuner card
    * Watch and record TV programmes on your PC
    * 8 in 1 USB 2.0 card reader. Reads from and writes to
    all common flash cards3
    * 8-channel Intel High Defi nition Audio

    Connect
    * 6 x 2.0 USB 2 x front, 4 x rear
    * 2 x FireWire 1 x front, 1 x rear

    Communicate
    * LAN Network controller on board Fast Ethernet 10/100
    MBit/s
    * 56K V.9 x PCI data/fax modem
    * Telephone connection cable included

    Skype Internet Telephony Software
    * Use the internet to make cheaper worldwide phone
    calls5
    * Includes 120 free minutes of Skypeout calls
    1 Requires a DVB-T or other digital service in your area. 2
    The revolutionary new NVIDIA(R) TurboCacheTM technology
    utilises the additional bandwidth of PCI-Express to reach
    higher levels of graphics performance than traditional video
    memory solutions. TurboCacheTM shares the capacity and
    bandwidth of dedicated 128MB video memory and dynamically
    available system memory for turbocharged performance and
    large total graphics memory. 3 Flash Cards not included. 4
    OEM Version. 5 See
    Skype for more
    information.

    Thanks once again
    quinnmar
     
  4. lisag

    lisag
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    Sounds alright to me - upgrade your graphics card - something like the fanless Gigabyte 6600GT would be a good start - but there are plenty on the market to choose from.

    Choos a good DVD codec, such as the nvidia one, (or Theatertek, or PowerDVD).

    Choose which front-end software you want to use (eg, Windows MCE, Meedio) and maybe change the tuners if not compatible with what you want.

    lisa
     
  5. quinnmar

    quinnmar
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    Thanks Lisa,

    Are you suggesting that I keep this PC and upgrade the components?

    The reason I ask is because I know I can return it as I talked to Technical Support yesterday, when I had problems out putting to my 32"LCD TV.

    At the moment, I need to hotswap between my pc monitor and the 32" LCD TV after I've booted up Windows, as I've only one VGA output. To date, I can get a better resolution than 800x600@60Hz without it locking up.

    I also got PowerDVD 6 included in the package, so that's saved me something.
     
  6. Skunkpipe

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    You can get a great spec for that price.
    First question to ask is where is it going and are you limited by space - i.e what sort of case do you need?
     
  7. Big Adam

    Big Adam
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    You bought the PC yesterday but decide today that it isn't very good? :suicide:

    The basic gubbins are all fine but considering you are already looking at a graphics and possibly a software upgrade, I would personally take the machine back to Aldi for a refund and then start from scratch.
     
  8. lisag

    lisag
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    Yes, it's a difficult decision - if you can return for a full refund then it is tempting to do that and start again.

    It depends on how much you like it, and how much you want to spend in time and patience (and money) in building your own, or sourcing another ready built one.

    One factor may be if you want to use MCE or not, as you already have an XP home licence with that machine, but you will have to spend about another £100 for an MCE licence.

    lisa
     
  9. quinnmar

    quinnmar
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    What's thrown me here is that I reviewed the nVidia GeForce 6200 gfx card prior to buying it as I needed DVI out. I opted to buy this computer as every review showed one VGA and one DVI output.
     
  10. quinnmar

    quinnmar
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    I intend to put the computer into a cupboard and feed the output to my 32" LCD screen with is on the other side of the cupboard.

    To this end, noise isn't going to be to big an issue as it's in the cupboard. My intention is to play high defination movies on my 32" LCD screen.
     
  11. quinnmar

    quinnmar
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    Decisions, decisions...

    What advantages does MCE have over XP Home?
     
  12. lisag

    lisag
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    Well, I really like MCE - you get XP Pro plus the MCE app which gives you a nice interface operated by a remote control where you can access and organise all your media files and watch and record live tv, with an EPG that does series recordings etc...

    It is not without its foibles, although a service pack is due sometime between now and October which may fix it (or may make it worse!).

    There are free or cheaper apps that others use to do similar things, such as meedio and others whose name I can't remember, it is very much a personal preference and what you are used to I think.

    lisa
     
  13. quinnmar

    quinnmar
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    Thanks Lisa,

    I guess if it's a cheapish way to get Windows XP Professional, I'd probably opt for MCE than

    I really can't figure out why my gfx card only has a solitary VGA output?

    Thanks all the same!
     
  14. Big Adam

    Big Adam
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    It's a cut-down unbranded version of a regular 6200. Not being able to get above 800x600 seems to suggest a driver problem. Assume you have updated the drivers over and above what came in the box?

    Lisag's suggestion of a 6600 (GT) is spot on. Will provide ultimate balance between power, price and silence.

    Beware of sticking a standard PC case in a cupboard. Heat will build up quickly causing instability of the system at best and things to go 'pop' at worst. You'll need a well ventilated case preferably venting the exhaust directly out of the cupboard.

    That Aldi PC will also come with a pretty poor unbranded PSU as well. My personal view is that if you buy one decent component for your PC, it should be the power supply. There is many a no-name power supply that has failed taking out some very nice branded components in it's wake.
     
  15. quinnmar

    quinnmar
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    I'm just in the process of d/l the drivers now ~30M.

    The problem I'm having is that if I have the pc connected to the LCD TV, via the VGA to DVI cable that came with the LCD TV it works (after hot-swapping from my monitor). The LCD TV displays 800x600@60Hz Auto Analogue PC.

    When I reboot the pc whilst having the LCD TV connected, the TV momentarily starts up Windows, (so it must initially be loading the gfx drivers), then it briefly display a resolution of 640x480 before it hangs up.

    Away to install the latest drivers now...

    thanks
     
  16. Big Adam

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    Sounds like it is starting in safe mode......which would be very odd.

    The card is also one of these new-fangled Turbo-cache models which shares the main system memory. Could well be that there is some sort of conflict or setting issue here too. Either way, I think it is a bit of a liberty for Aldi to call the graphics "High End" ;)

    All in all, I'd say return the PC and slowly put together your own unit. It is by far the most satisfying method.
     

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